EAST ASIA: INTENSE WATER DEFICIT FORECAST FOR MONGOLIA, INNER MONGOLIA, & HUNAN

26 March 2018

THE BIG PICTURE
The 12-month forecast map for East Asia (below) indicates widespread, intense deficits reaching exceptional severity across northern China from Xinjiang through Inner Mongolia and much of Mongolia, along with both deficit and surplus conditions as transitions occur. Deficits are also forecast for Northeast China; west of the Yellow Sea in Shandong and Hebei; Fujian and Jiangxi in the Southeast; Hunan, Guizhou, Sichuan, and eastern Tibet.

Conditions of moderate surplus are expected in the Han River Basin in Hubei, China. More intense surpluses are forecast in western Tibet.

Moderate deficits are forecast for Japan and the Korean Peninsula, with more intense conditions near Seoul.

FORECAST BREAKDOWN
The 3-month time series maps below show the evolving conditions in more detail.

The near-term forecast through May indicates that the extent of exceptional deficits in Mongolia and across the border into China will increase, creating a vast stretch from Xinjiang through Inner Mongolia. Moderate deficits will continue to emerge in Northeast China and North Korea. Deficits in South Korea will moderate, though more severe conditions will persist in Seoul and surrounding provinces. Deficits in Shandong, China are also expected to moderate. In the Southeast, deficits will expand and upgrade in Fujian and Jiangxi, becoming severe, and some moderate deficits will emerge along the Yangtze River. Exceptional deficits will expand in Hunan and Guizhou, and deficits in northwestern Yunnan will upgrade, becoming extreme.

Formerly observed surplus conditions from Shanghai inland through Chongqing are forecast to diminish considerably, leaving moderate surplus on the Huai River but exceptional surplus in the Dan and Han River watersheds to the west. Exceptional surplus will also linger in northern Shaanxi into central Shanxi, western Tibet, and southern and eastern Qinghai. Surpluses in the western Pearl River Basin in Guangxi and Yunnan will diminish, and moderate surpluses will persist in Hainan.

Conditions in Japan will transition from surplus to nearly normal in Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu. Surplus is forecast for western Hokkaido with some deficits in the east.

The forecast for June through August indicates a retreat of exceptional deficits across northern China and Mongolia, but a block will persist in western Inner Mongolia. Moderate to extreme deficits will continue to emerge in Northeast China. The Korean Peninsula is forecast to transition from deficit to some mild surplus conditions. Aforementioned widespread surpluses from Shanghai through Hubei in China will nearly disappear. Deficit conditions in Hunan, Ghizhou, Fujian, and Jiangxi will moderate, and moderate deficits will emerge in Guangdong. In Japan, some mild deficits are expected.

The forecast for the final months – September through November – indicates mild to moderate deficit conditions overall, though intense deficits will persist in western Inner Mongolia.

(It should be noted that forecast skill declines with longer lead times.)

IMPACTS
A blizzard disrupted transportation systems and contributed to the death of one road services worker in northern Japan early this month. Over 100 flights and 500 trains were halted as the blizzard dropped over 50 cm (19.6 inches) within 24 hours. The storm system also grounded a tug boat with a barge and a gas carrier, necessitating an airlift rescue of seven crew members by the Japanese Coast Guard.

In contrast, Beijing residents took to social media to document and celebrate the few snowflakes that fell on the city, ending a record-breaking dry streak which reached 145 days of no meaningful precipitation in mid-March. Snowfall accumulation of a mere three to seven millimeters (0.1-0.3 inches) prompted celebration in the city’s streets. Hoping to capitalize on favorable snow conditions, the city’s meteorology bureau used snow-making machines to "boost humidity and try to bring on some snowfall."

China is expected to resume providing India with hydrological data on the Brahmaputra River. Last year, China failed to uphold an agreement to provide its southern neighbor with upstream river data during the flood season, adding to tension between the two nations over border issues. Flooding on the Brahmaputra in 2017 killed over 160 people in Assam, India.

Severe drought in South Korea prompted an order of water rationing on 6 February in the hard-hit northern province of Gangwon. Dry conditions also fueled a wildfire in the region, burning 30 hectares (74 acres) of forest. Boryeong Dam in Chungcheongnam Province in the west was at only 25 percent capacity compared to the annual average of 63 percent, and drought is expected to reduce the province's garlic harvest by 60 percent.

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) attributed the low output of North Korea’s 2017 main cropping season to water deficits. North Korea is one of 37 countries in the world facing food shortages, according to FAO's recent quarterly global report, Crop Prospects and Food Situation.

NOTE ON ADMINISTRATIVE BOUNDARIES
There are numerous regions around the world where country borders are contested. ISciences depicts country boundaries on these maps solely to provide some geographic context. The boundaries are nominal, not legal, descriptions of each entity. The use of these boundaries does not imply any judgement on the legal status of any territory, or any endorsement or acceptance of disputed boundaries on the part of ISciences or our data providers.

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Many analyses reported in ISciences-authored blog posts are based on data generated by the ISciences Water Security Indicator Model (WSIM). Other sources, if used, are referenced in footnotes accompanying individual posts. WSIM is a validated capability that produces monthly reports on current and forecast global freshwater surpluses and deficits with lead times of 1-9 months at 0.5°x0.5° resolution. This capability has been in continuous operation since April 2011 and has proven to provide reliable forecasts of emerging water security concerns in that time-frame. WSIM has the ability to assess the impacts of water anomalies on people, agriculture, and electricity generation. Detailed data, customized visualizations, and reports are available for purchase.

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